F11 Sowing seeds

  • Plan sowing so tree seedlings will be ready during the rainy season. Many tree seedlings need about four to six months in a tree nursery before planting out.
  • Water the containers very well before planting with seed. After sowing, water the containers once a day, either in the early morning or evening.
  • Plant two or three seeds into each container. Some trees have very hard seed coats and may need help to begin growing. Seeds such as acacia and leuceana, should be soaked overnight in very hot (not boiling) water to help germination. Or you can use sandpaper or a very sharp knife to make a tiny cut in the seed coat.
  • If you are planting in beds, sow seeds in lines unless the seed is too tiny to handle. Mix tiny seeds with dry fine sand before scattering. Cover seed with a little fine soil.


  • Is it a waste of seed to plant two or three seeds in each pot? 
  • Some tree seeds are designed to grow after forest fires. How does the use of hot water help to copy the heat of fire? 
  • Seeds with very hard seed coats may take many months to begin growing unless they are treated with hot water or sometimes rubbed with sandpaper to weaken the tough seed coat. Discuss how you could experiment to find the best method. 
  • What kind of local tree seeds might need special treatment? 
  • If possible, collect a number of different kinds of tree seeds and consider the differences in treatment they may need. 
  • Do you have watering cans available? If not could you make watering equipment from gourds like that shown in the diagram, or make holes in the base of large tins or plastic bottles?